Sunday, September 27, 2020

Losing Trick Count & Slam Bidding

 Although, technically speaking, we don't use Losing Trick Count until we find a trump fit with partner, I find myself automatically making note of the number of losers in my hand as a secondary evaluation tool when gauging the strength of my hand.  Here are a couple of examples from a recent game.

I started off this instant IMP game with a bang--bidding good-scoring slams on the first two boards.

I definitely had a powerhouse on the first board.  Only 18 points, but 4 losers.  I deemed it worth a 2C opener.  Robot partner bid 2D, waiting, and I bid 2S.  Partner now bid 3S.  This bid shows some values--more strength than jumping directly to 4S.  

With an expert partner, I might begin a cuebidding sequence, but with the robots, I just jumped to 4NT, RKC.  Partner bid an unexpected 5NT, showing an even number of keycards plus a void.  I signed off in 6S and got a friendly and surprising lead of the SK!

Studying the hands, I wasn't impressed with pard's 5NT bid, but it looked like I was in good shape, nevertheless. I won the SK as East played the S9. I pitched two diamonds on the Ace and King of hearts and started a cross-ruff.  

I ended up taking all of the tricks for the score of plus 1010.  8 out of 15 pairs bid the slam and I won 6.1 IMPs.

Board 2

I barely had time to catch a breath before the next powerhouse came onto my screen!

This time I opened 1H and some serious competitive bidding ensued.  LHO bid 2D and Robot partner bid 2S.  (Wow!)  RHO made a nuisance bid of 4D bid and I paused to analyze my hand.

I expect partner to have at least 5 spades and at least 10 points.  With my 5-loser hand and diamond void, I figured that slam should be a good bet.  Without any clearcut way to obtain more information, I simply jumped to 6S. 

East led a diamond, and again I started a cross-ruff. I ruffed all the diamonds in my hand and was pleased to see trumps break 2-2 and clubs break 3-2.  

I ended up taking all 13 tricks for a score of 1460.  As only 3 pairs out of 15 bid the slam (and also made 1460) I got a great score of 11.43 IMPs.

This set me on the winning path of 48+ IMPs for the 12-board session with no minus scores!

Don't forget to use Losing Trick Count as a most effective hand evaluation tool!

See you at the table!

Sunday, September 6, 2020

A Fun Counting Endplay

Keep practicing counting out the hands.  The effort will bring great results!

Here is a fun one I had today. I was playing an instant IMP tournament and was lying fourth in the field.  I clearly needed a big finish and this was the last board.

 My hand was the right strength for a balancing 2NT and my robot partner raised me to 3NT.

The diamond lead was friendly, but there was still work to do. On the run of the diamonds I pitched a trick in each suit.  I then put LHO in with a spade.  A second spade was cashed and I ducked it.  A club shift came next.  I inserted the jack and RHO won and shifted back to a spade, LHO showing out. 

NOW I HAVE A COUNT ON THE HAND. LHO started with 6 hearts, 3 diamonds, 2 spades, and therefore, only 2 clubs.  Let's see how I can use this information. These are the cards remaining.

Now that I know what LHO holds, I can make my contract.  What should I do next?

First, I must play a club to eliminate LHO's exit card.  I played a club to the ace and now I know that LHO has all hearts left. With this information I can simply play a heart to the 9.  LHO will win, but will then have to lead into my heart tenace (heart AQ),

This is exactly what transpired and the score of plus 600 was worth 10+ IMPs. This was the big finish I was looking for, and it catapulted me to the top of the field for a win!

See you at the table!